Rob van der Woude's Scripting Pages


Use the FINDSTR command to search for a specific string in a file or files and send the specified lines to your output device.
FINDSTR was introduced in the Windows NT 4 Resource Kit and is now a native command in Windows 2000 and later.



Searches for strings in files.

FINDSTR [/B] [/E] [/L] [/R] [/S] [/I] [/X] [/V] [/N] [/M] [/O] [/P] [/F:file] [/C:string] [/G:file] [/D:dir list] [/A:color attributes] [strings] [[drive:][path]filename[ ...]]
/B Matches pattern if at the beginning of a line.
/E Matches pattern if at the end of a line.
/L Uses search strings literally.
/R Uses search strings as regular expressions.
/S Searches for matching files in the current directory and all subdirectories.
/I Specifies that the search is not to be case-sensitive.
/X Prints lines that match exactly.
/V Prints only lines that do not contain a match.
/N Prints the line number before each line that matches.
/M Prints only the filename if a file contains a match.
/O Prints character offset before each matching line.
/P Skip files with non-printable characters.
/A:attr Specifies color attribute with two hex digits. See "color /?"
/F:file Reads file list from the specified file(/ stands for console).
/C:string Uses specified string as a literal search string.
/G:file Gets search strings from the specified file(/ stands for console).
/D:dir Search a semicolon delimited list of directories.
strings Text to be searched for.
[drive:][path]filename Specifies a file or files to search.


Use spaces to separate multiple search strings unless the argument is prefixed with /C.
For example FINDSTR "hello there" x.y searches for "hello" or "there" in file x.y.
FINDSTR /C:"hello there" x.y searches for "hello there" in file x.y.


Regular expression quick reference:

. Wildcard: any character
* Repeat: zero or more occurrences of previous character or class
ˆ Line position: beginning of line
$ Line position: end of line
[class] Character class: any one character in set
class] Inverse class: any one character not in set
[x-y] Range: any characters within the specified range
\x Escape: literal use of metacharacter x
\<xyz Word position: beginning of word
xyz\> Word position: end of word


To learn more about regular expressions read Mastering Regular Expressions (2nd Edition) by Jeffrey E.F. Friedl.
More titles on regular expressions can be found here.


FINDSTR may not be available on every system your batch file targets: though native in Windows 2000 and later, it has to be bought and installed separately on Windows NT 4 systems.

The following code snippet can be used to detect if FINDSTR is available:

FINDSTR /? >NUL 2>&1


FINDSTR /? >NUL 2>&1 || ECHO FINDSTR not available!

This trick has been used in ReadReg.bat to decide if FINDSTR or EGREP should be used.


page last modified: 2016-09-19